The French Riviera – Oh La La!
The Travel With Bradley, “French Riviera Sparkling Cote d’Azure” passengers and I returned back to Canada last evening.
We departed on February 25th with Air France to Nice via Paris. The weather in Southern Ontario was nasty that day. Some of my passengers were forced to travel on secondary roads because there were many closed highways due to winter white-out conditions.
The Air France staff at Toronto Pearson Airport were very professional. Our check-in was seamless and before long my passengers were relaxing in the Plaza Premium Lounge (A “Travel With Bradley Perk”).
Due to heavy snowfall the aircraft had to be de-iced which delayed our departure but strong winds mean’t a shorter flying time to Paris. After going through security and passport control in Paris I directed everyone to our next boarding gate which was close by.
Our connecting flight from Nice to Paris was a short, 90 minutes. One piece of luggage was missing but it arrived on the next flight from Paris and was delivered to our hotel later in the day.
Waiting for us in the arrivals hall was our friendly and very knowledgeable local guide, Catherine. Pinto was our driver – from Portugal.
We traveled to the charming medieval village of St Paul De Vence for an excellent welcome luncheon followed by some free time in the village. We watched some men playing pétanque beneath the towering plane trees.
Our home for 6 nights was a relaxing 4 star hotel. This highly rated seafront property, is located on the famous Promenade des Anglais. All of our upgraded, sophisticated hotel rooms featured stunning panoramic sea views. We spent time on our room balconies, especially when watching the stunning, colourful sunrises. The staff at the hotel was exceptional and so was their bountiful breakfast buffets which we looked forward to daily.
We visited “Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild” a French seaside villa, located at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It took seven years to build this villa which is located on one of the most beautiful sites on the Côte d’Azur. The villa was beautiful inside and its formal gardens were superb. We sat in the sun while enjoying the charming “dancing fountains”.
We enjoyed a luncheon in the villa’s elegant dining room.
The many meals we enjoyed during this journey were fantastic We dined in beautifully decorated small restaurants, where the cuisine was artistically presented, service was always spot-on, and the 3 courses were always delicious – as a bonus everyone enjoyed accompanied French wines. These were relaxing affairs, often lasting between 2-3 hours.
We spent time in Monaco where 1 in 56 people is worth at least $30 Million! Monaco’s citizens altogether have more private wealth per capital than any other citizens from any given country – the reason they are drawn here is because there is no income tax. To be considered a resident, a person must live in the principality for six months plus one day per year. What it lacks in size it makes up in attitude. This is the Worlds 2nd smallest country. We toured its famous casino and dined in a very elegant space.
The glamour of Cannes (home of the famous film festival) impressed us all but its natural beauty made our visit worthwhile. The sun shines here 300 days a year.
When we visited village of St. Tropez we admired its serene side as we meandered its cobbled lanes.
We visited Menton, the most Italianate and warmest town on the French Riviera. its colourful Lemon Festival is a major event attracting upwards of 250,000 visitors every February which makes it the second largest event along the French Riviera. This unique attraction started back in 1928. This years theme was “Des Mandes Fantastiques – Fantastic Worlds”. To create one of the worlds most unique events, over 300 professionals and 145 tons of citrus fruit are used to decorate the Bioves Garden fruit sculptures which we visited at nightfall in order to witness them lit up. We returned later in the journey, to attend the events 1.5 hour citrus themed parade which featured a mixture of giant citrus-covered floats, lots of confetti, dancers and folk groups.
This journey also took us into San Remo, Italy – also known as the City of Flowers. Its setting is beautiful. We dined at a very small family run Italian restaurant where the Grandmother was the cook. We felt like we were eating in her home.
I think a highlight for all of us was when we traveled into the remote French countryside, down some hairpin turns and narrow roads in order to visit a family run olive plantation. The owner was real character and he treated us like royalty. The home cooked meal they served us in their dining room was scrumptious and the view overlooked a beautiful valley. We basically had this place to ourselves – what a wonderful experience.
We attended the world renowned, Nice Carnival twice. Once during its Spring Flower parade and we returned for the evening spectacular, “Carnival Parade of Lights”. This years theme was “King of Cinema”. We enjoyed prime reserved seating for both events. The atmosphere was vibrant and lively. Many family’s attend, dressed in costumes. Approximately a million visitors from around the world visit this event which is the largest on the French Riviera region. The Nice Carnival is one of the world’s major carnival events, alongside the Brazilian and Venetian Carnivals. This event started back in 1294!
The “Battle of the Flowers” Parade was brilliant. Beautiful floats covered with flowers passed us and costumed people on the floats throw flowers into the crowd. The evening parade featured illuminated mega size floats, lively music, along choreographed dancers – a party-type family atmosphere. I think we all appreciate the amount of effort that obviously goes into organizing this mega event.
We enjoyed glorious weather during our stay. In fact many days we just needed to wear short sleeve shirts. This sun was always shining.
Our journey home was smooth – especially the skies. In Paris airport we needed to board a coach that shuttled us from one terminal to another. This process definitely took time but the biggest delay was getting through the long lines at Canada customs on our return to Toronto.
This magnificent journey provided us the opportunity to discover the charms of Nice and the Côte d’Azur during the mild Riviera winters. The events I included were amazing. Put this part of the world on your “must visit” list especially during this time of the years so you can attend the area’s world famous events.